The livestock section of the National Ploughing Championships is somewhat smaller this year, with a number of notable absences, namely the Irish Charolais Cattle Society, the Irish Limousin Cattle Society, the Irish Hereford Cattle Society and the Irish Simmental Cattle Society.
Breeds represented include Aubracs, Salers and the Irish Holstein Friesian Association (IHFA).
The IHFA is one of Ireland's largest member-owned cattle organisations with 3,700 members from 15 different clubs across Ireland.
Speaking with representatives from the IHFA at the Ploughing, it was clear that their membership was a main priority when attending this year’s event.
In a year where breed societies scaled back their exhibitions at the annual event after a two-year COVID break, the IHFA saw it as an opportunity to give back to its members and show its gratitude for the hard work that its breeders put in throughout the year.
Speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal, IHFA’s Donal Carey said: “It’s nice to chat to the public and to our members and remember all the good that has come and that is yet to come rather than the doom and gloom that sometimes lingers.
"Days like today give us an opportunity to build relationships with breeders and to highlight the achievements of our members.”
It’s great to see where our milk and dairy products are coming from
Stopping a city dweller who was walking through the stand, I asked them what they thought of the livestock section.
“It’s great to see where our milk and dairy products are coming from. The cows are happy, healthy and well looked after and it’s nice to see the different types of Holstein Friesians on display.”
On the stand were five variations of the Holstein Friesian breed to show that there’s something to “suit any dairy farmer's system”.
First in the impressive line-up was Hanrahan S2304 Maureen (EX 90) for Edmond Hanrahan, Mitchelstown, Co Cork.
She is now in her fifth lactation, with an EBI of €254 and has two sons standing in AI, Magnifico FR4728 and Olympus FR5239.
She is the third generation of this line to average above 570kg of milk solids and has a daughter projected to reach 482kg of solids in her first lactation.
Next in line was Reary Norah 233 (EX 92 4E), owned by Kevin Flynn, Clonaslee, Co Laois.
Norah has an EBI of €199. Now in her seventh lactation, Reary Norah 233 is also the third generation to average over 700kg of milk solids, with a lifetime sales figure exceeding €9,000.
Reary Norah 469 (VG 85), also from Kevin Flynn’s herd, was next in the line-up. She produced 600kg of milk solids in her first lactation and is due to calve again in January.
Antannagh Janice 799 (EX 90 2E), owned by William Stanley and Ernest Seale from Portlaoise, Co Laois, is the third generation to average over 500kg of solids and has a daughter who is projected to do 573kg of solids in her first lactation.
She is in-calf for the sixth time, highlighting positive fertility traits.
Completing the line-up was Carrickshock Chad 2321 (VG 88), owned by Pat Cleary from Hugginstown, Co Kilkenny.
She is a pure Fresian in her third lactation, with an EBI of €142 and solids averaging over 540kg. She is also a third-generation female to produce average solids over 600kg.
With many challenges facing breeders in the future in terms of policy at yield level and at national level, the IHFA is striving to help farmers find a balance that allows them to make the necessary changes with minimal losses.
Despite the pressure to reduce emissions, the general outlook among breeders is very positive.
Donal Carey said: “Sometimes it is difficult to comprehend how such a high-performing female like we have here who has proven herself as being highly efficient isn't recognised more."